Jessica Hopkins ranks among the greats in Seattle women’s sports

For a generation of sports fans in Seattle, names such as Rachel Gore, Doris Brown, Hope Solo and Lauren Jackson evoke emotions of excellence and elite competition among female athletes. One individual that has helped raise the profile of female football in the Pacific Northwest, along with the notion that women deserve to compete on the gridiron is Jessica Hopkins. In doing so, she has crafted a strong sporting legacy worthy among Seattle sports heroes.

Having also participated in competitions as a fitness model, Hopkins is a highly talented athlete whose greatest gifts go beyond her desire to win. Reputed as friendly with fans, down-to-earth and well-spoken, her personality complements the on-field performances that have captivated Mist fans. A great example of her popularity in Seattle sports is the fact that she was invited to participate in Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith’s Celebrity Softball game for charity.

Appearing at charity softball game of Super Bowl XLVIII Most Valuable Player Malcolm Smith with Seahawks player Roy Lewis (right). Photo credit: Gino Martino

Appearing at charity softball game of Super Bowl XLVIII Most Valuable Player Malcolm Smith with Seahawks player Roy Lewis (right). Photo credit: Gino Martino

Having earned a handful of awards in her Mist career, she is the glue that holds the Mist together. As the franchise has evolved from expansion status to title contender, Hopkins has been essential to such growth. If one element truly endears her to Mist fans, it is the fact that she is a homegrown talent.

While the league has gained detractors due to its controversies over sex appeal, individuals like Hopkins proceed with a quiet dignity. Her ability to maintain a tone of professionalism speaks volumes about her ability to evoke all the qualities of leadership while providing a presence makes her a remarkable mentor for many newer players.

Among the rare group of women that can be classified as a female football hero on both sides of the border, the chance to compete in Abbottsford, British Columbia extended her standing as a living legend in LFL football. Having participated with the BC Angels during the expansion season of indoor women’s football in 2012, it came as no surprise that the season ended with Hopkins earning a championship title and fans on both sides of the border.

Perhaps more impressive is the fact that she is also a mother. Being able to juggle the commitment of family and football is a quality that is not only an empowering one but an inspiration to women. Complemented by her commitment to charitable contributions, Hopkins and her Mist teammates work hard to make an impact in the community as athletic humanitarians.

While the current state of indoor women’s football appears to be at a crossroads, the popularity of the Mist is testament to the efforts of athletes such as Hopkins. Should the league fold after its fifth season of play in the United States, it does not have to mean the end for female football in Seattle. There is enough of a strong fan base through the West Coast that a new player-run league could be formed with Hopkins as one of its foundations. In addition, Hopkins would be more than capable of competing with the Seattle Majestics of the Women’s Football Alliance.

Her enthusiasm and love of the game is not only contagious, but is surely noticed by the fans. In a world where many sports are tainted by greed and ego, the humble Hopkins represents the true nature of sportsmanship and what athletes should aspire to.

Kasey Carter emerges as an inspiring rookie footballer for the Seattle Mist

Heading into the Seattle Mist’s 2014 campaign, the proud indoor football franchise welcomed several new faces. In addition to five members from the British Columbia Angels getting onboard, featuring the sensational Smash Sisters of Stevi Schnoor and Deanna Schaper-Kotter, another new face breathed new life into the exciting franchise.

At 35 years young, Kasey Carter brought more than just a love of football to the gridiron. Her enthusiasm and determination set a positive example, proving to be one of the most inspiring rookies in league play this season. Showing that age is nothing more than a state of mind, Carter contributed to a Mist franchise that boasts one of the best team cultures in women’s football.

KCMist

Perhaps more impressive is the fact that Carter, who is employed as a nurse in ED, is also a mother. Joining the likes of fellow teammates (and mothers), Jessica Hopkins, second-generation football player Angela Rypien and quarterback Mary-Anne Hanson, who led the BC Angels to a championship in 2012, juggling family and football is a remarkable example of the empowerment that helps define all women’s sports.

Employing social media as a way of connecting with fans, it has added a special dimension to Carter’s rookie campaign. One of the most heartwarming aspects of her social media journey was a video she uploaded, where she is playing with her daughter. For many generations, a backyard scrimmage was traditionally reserved for father and son. Introducing her daughter to the game, it is part of a bold era in the game’s growth, proving that the future of football equally belongs to women.

Although Carter was relegated to the bench during the regular season, it did not diminish her role with the team. Of note, she was one of many proud Mist players that took part in the charity softball tournament of Super Bowl XLVIII Most Valuable Player (and Seattle Seahawks member) Malcolm Smith. While backup duties can be a difficult aspect for rookies and veterans alike, Carter showed great maturity and patience, the hallmark of a true team player. With the Mist having qualified for a postseason berth, hope was not yet lost for Carter to grace the gridiron. Making a tackle in a visceral postseason loss to the rival Los Angeles Temptation, it was a time of great elation and validation for the inspiring rookie. Should she decide to continue and pursue her football dream, her perseverance stands as a shining beacon to never stop believing.

Seattle Mist capturing the imaginations of fans in 2013 LFL season

After knocking on the door for so many seasons, the Seattle Mist has knocked it down in 2013. Coming off a victory in the inaugural Pacific Cup against the BC Angels from LFL Canada, the stars seemed to be aligned for the ambitious fifth-year squad.

From LFL Images

From LFL Images

Building on the momentum of a Cup triumph, the Mist has stormed out to a dream season in 2013. Playing out of the ShoWare Center, the Mist was the only undefeated team during the regular season. Capturing their first-ever Pacific Division crown, Seattle scored a league-best 169 points.
Complemented by a Conference title, the Mist are hoping for a triple crown with their first-ever Legends Cup.

A significant aspect from their success starts at the quarterback position. Laurel Creel, who was named Most Valuable Player of the inaugural Pacific Cup, has shown remarkable grace and poise at the position. With the second-best total offense in the league (behind Anne Erler’s Green Bay Chill), Creel helped the Mist register a league-high 24 touchdowns.

Having thrown for 460 yards and 14 touchdowns (compared to only three interceptions), she has served as the catalyst of the Mist’s high-octane offense. With a proficient passer rating of 100.3, Creel ranks third in the league behind Chicago’s Heather Furr and Baltimore’s Morgan Spencer.

Other leaders on the offensive contingent include rookie running back Mele Rich and Shuree Hyatt. With 182 rushing yards and four touchdowns, Rich accounts for 57 percent of the rushing attack. Hyatt has accumulated 9 receptions for 123 yards as she is one of five Mist receivers to have at least 50 receiving yards.

Defensively, Lashaun Fowler is having a season to remember. Leading the Mist with 18 tackles, she was also the LFL regular season sack champion with 3.5.

Kerry Warren applying pressure on Green Bay quarterback Anne Erler (Image obainted from: http://www.lflus.com/schedule?game=546)

Kerry Warren applying pressure on Green Bay quarterback Anne Erler (Image obainted from: http://www.lflus.com/schedule?game=546)

Their road to glory began on April 6 versus the Green Bay Chill. Facing Anne “Showtime” Erler, the Mist were facing one of the most versatile and athletic quarterbacks in the LFL. Their showdown with Erler would signify a season marked by tests against elite members of the league.

While Rich would score the first touchdown of the season for the Mist, no lead is safe against Erler. Although Seattle jumped out to a convincing 20-6 lead, Erler was not intimidated by the boisterous crowd at ShoWare. With a little over two minutes in the first half, Erler helped lead the Chill to the end zone twice as the Mist only had a two-point lead at halftime.

Hyatt would emerge as the story of the game. With two touchdowns in the third quarter, her biggest contribution may have been an interception against Anne Erler. The pick helped to change the momentum as the Mist held off the potent Green Bay offense for a 55-36 final.

Jessica Hopkins breaks a tackle from Los Angeles Temptation defender Jasmine Byndloss (Image obtained from: http://www.lflus.com/schedule?game=580)

Jessica Hopkins breaks a tackle from Los Angeles Temptation defender Jasmine Byndloss (Image obtained from: http://www.lflus.com/schedule?game=580)

Facing the three-time defending LFL champion Los Angeles Temptation on May 4, the contest would truly make or break the Mist’s season. With Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California serving as the backdrop to this titanic struggle, it was the moment of truth for the Mist.
With the Temptation featuring the likes of Ashley Salerno and Liz Gorman, a road-win against them (something Seattle never did) would be hard earned.

Having emerged as the first dynasty in league history, the Mist was eager to overtake them and beat them on their own field. Nerves were evident as the Mist fumbled early in the game, leading to an Ashley Salerno touchdown pass to Melissa Margulies for an early lead.

An interception by Monique Gaxiola extended the Temptation’s lead with five minutes remaining in the quarter. Despite the strain of facing a high-powered on the road, Mele Rich help to set the tone for the Mist. Before the half expired, she scored a touchdown which helped give Seattle much-needed confidence.

A third-quarter interception of Salerno by Shuree Hyatt provided Seattle with their first lead of the game as the score was now 18-14. While Salerno would redeem herself by reclaiming the lead with a rushing touchdown, Creel would not be outdone. Despite being sacked by Chloe Butler, Creel kept her composure. A touchdown pass to Riki Creger-Zier would emerge as the winning touchdown, as Creel was recognized with Game MVP honors.

Donning number 12, Christine Moore lines up against the Minnesota Valkyries (Image obtained from: http://www.lflus.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/070613_MINvsSEA_EP_1394-XL.jpg)

Donning number 12, Christine Moore lines up against the Minnesota Valkyries (Image obtained from: http://www.lflus.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/070613_MINvsSEA_EP_1394-XL.jpg)

Winless Minnesota would serve as the next opponent for the Mist. The July 6 contest featured a pre-game Fourth of July ceremony as a victory would provide the franchise with its first division title. Minnesota rookie quarterback Kari Janes was intercepted twice in the first half as Seattle jumped out to a 22-0 lead.

Minnesota’s rookie quarterback continued to struggle in the second half as she was intercepted twice again. With only five completions, the 23 year-old was overwhelmed by a more experienced squad in a hostile arena. Seattle touchdowns by Shuree Hyatt and Riki Creger-Zier provided the squad with a convincing 38-0 win and a historic first; the Pacific Division crown.

Trying to contain legendary Las Vegas quarterback Nikki Johnson (Image obtained from: http://www.lflus.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/i-SP747dD-XL.jpg)

Trying to contain legendary Las Vegas quarterback Nikki Johnson (Image obtained from: http://www.lflus.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/i-SP747dD-XL.jpg)

Emotions ran high in the final game of the regular season versus the Las Vegas Sin. The July 20, 2013 contest at Orleans Arena featured former Seattle player Danika Brace competing against her former team.

With rookie runner Carmen Bourseau providing Las Vegas with a 7-0 lead, as the club was still looking for a postseason berth. As Jessica Hopkins sat out the contest with an injury, it would only have been natural to expect Sin quarterback Nikki Johnson, one of the greatest quarterbacks in LFL history, to pick apart the Mist defense.

Instead of a great quarterback match-up between Johnson and Creel, the outcome of the match was settled before halftime. On one of her first pass attempts, Johnson was picked off by Mele Rich who ran it back for a touchdown.

Although Johnson played valiantly and displayed tenacity, she could not help the Sin regain the lead. A touchdown pass to Kelley Schroeder pulled the Sin to within 8 points, with a 22-14 score. Before halftime, Megan Hanson and Mele Rich would score touchdowns for the 36-14 advantage.

Overwhelmed throughout the match by an aggressive Mist defense, Johnson was helpless as her team was simply not capable of matching up against Seattle. The game would signify the worst performance of her legendary career, as she went 9-for-21, while racking up three interceptions. The 52-14 final score represented several franchise milestones for the Mist; most points in one game and highest margin of victory in a game.

Left to right: Riki Greger-Zier, Jessica Hopkins. Christine Moore and Shea Norton (Imgae obtained from: http://www.lflus.com/seattlemist)

Left to right: Riki Greger-Zier, Jessica Hopkins. Christine Moore and Shea Norton (Imgae obtained from: http://www.lflus.com/seattlemist)

While the next stop in Seattle’s breakthrough season shall be the Conference Championship on August 24 in Los Angeles, confidence is high as the club brings an offensive attack that shall prove to be difficult for any offense to contain. Super rookies such as Mele Rich and Shuree Hyatt have added a new dimension to the offensive attack, while complementing Creel’s emergence as an elite quarterback.

The maturity of players such as Riki Creger-Zier and Christine Moore has also been a key aspect in the Mist’s unprecedented success. Along with veterans Jessica Hopkins, the three have provided absolute consistency, versatility and leadership for the Mist.

Defensively, the three have combined for 42 tackles and three sacks. Their presence on offense has also been of great boon for the Mist. Hopkins has a combined 140 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns, making her one of the most valuable members of the roster. Creger-Zier has 78 yards and two touchdowns, while Moore has 49 yards and two scores.

While no championship is guaranteed, the 2013 campaign emerged as a validation for the hard work that the Mist has put into the game and towards building strong bonds within their community. For their enthusiastic fans, their loyalty and devotion has reinforced their standing as the best fans in the league. Regardless of the outcome of the postseason, the Mist has emerged as a model franchise in the LFL, paving the way for the other expansion teams to follow.